Sunday, January 07, 2007

LA whites tenaciously colorblind

But all the colors mix together, to grey/And it breaks her heart...

Is it specifically white Angelinos--residents of America's most distrustful city--that insist on burying their heads in the sand, tenaciously hanging on to the mythical belief in zero group differences, or is it endemic among white America? Guilt-stricken white America's intentions are about as good as they can possibly be, but in the words of Ned Flanders:
Well my family and I can't live in good intentions, Marge! Oh, your family's out of control, but we can't blame you, because you have gooooooooood intentions!

From the work he's been doing on Putnam, Steve Sailer links to the the Harvard professor's LA data. Looking through it (see page 3), the section on interracial trust demonstrates just how quixotic whites living in a sea of 'vibrant' conurbation often are. While blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans have varying amounts of trust for the various racial groups, whites blandly either trust everyone or are suspicious of everyone: 11% of whites do not trust other whites, 12% do not trust blacks, 11% do not trust Asians, and 11% do not trust Hispanics.

This is a depressing illustration of how far Americans of European descent have to go before they'll collectively take a hard look at demographic changes in the US and what they mean for the nation's future, looking vainly for solutions in everything from more money for education to more money spent on diversity training. Even with so much evidence available as to how important race is at the macro-level, white America remains oblivious (at least when anyone else is watching, reading, or listening).

A friend of mine, who has quite the misanthropic streak, frequently attempts to bail himself out of situations where he's pushed the envelope too far with a particularly acute ethnic- or gender-based comment, by maintaining "I'm not racist/sexist, I hate everyone equally." Even the politically incorrect South Park, cultishly popular among white college students, promotes itself as a show that makes fun of everyone and everything with equality, leaving no one out. Other laissez faire buddies who don't like putting up with the need-for-diversity-and-equality-at-the-same-time crap (NZ Conservative has a great take on this common phenomenon) protect themselves with economic arguments that proxy for the things they'd like to point out but don't dare to.

A couple other interesting notables:

- Blacks trust Hispanics the most (more so than other blacks even), though Hispanics trust blacks the least.

- Over twice as many Asians distrust blacks as distrust everyone else, the greatest proportional gap of all the combinations of group-to-group levels of mistrust. I suspect much of this comes from the LA riots and the black-led boycotts of enterprising Koreans operating in crummy areas of the city.

- Relatedly, while Asians get high marks by whites, Hispanics, and other Asians (solely or tied for the most trusted racial group by all three), blacks trust them the least. This likely stems in part from what's mentioned above--Koreans (and other Asians such as Indians) frequently operating businesses in mostly black areas, creating a feeling among blacks that these Asians are stealing their jobs and ripping them off.


JSBolton said...

Here's part of what I posted at
Community of values is an important aspect; but there also may be mobility considerations relative to the increased chance for grab-and-run strategies.
Diversity is a measure also of heightened mobility of populations which not long ago lived vastly further apart.
Hearing different languages spoken around them is not reassuring but disturbing to people; doesn't it allow for nefarious communication?
The hard part is to explain why people do not trust their own sort more, but rather less, as diversity increases around them.
Perhaps those being picked up on as trusting their own kind less as diversity increases locally, are tending to then see a more trusting disposition existing in their group, at the outset, as more treacherous and disadvantageous, as the grab-and-run strategy is favored by the increased mobility which generates the increased diversity.
Maybe also, it could be a case of cognitive dissonance, where those becoming less trusting of some, feel that they must make a general policy of this.
New comment:
There probably is also an effect of diversity itself, where people suspect their own for appearing to be a party to, or celebrants of, the imported diversity; it sounds disloyal when there is bad diversity coming in, and a price to be paid for it.
Public voices cheer for diversity, as if there were something bad about the identity of the majority, even genetically, and since many of these voices are white and not often contradicted publicly, many whites will feel betrayed and distrustful of the other whites, who are presumed to be pleased as punch with all this, even though it's hard to see how they could be.

JSBolton said...

In terms of the ideal of colorblindness; there is something objectionable with it.
There is no reason to make a special category for valuing lack of one kind of bias, the color kind, when it implies, and depends on valuing anti-discrimination more generally.
It is irrational to make out such an ideal, if it dishonestly tries to exempt itself from the general criticism of anti-discrimination.
Anti-discrimination is not really reasonable, as an ideal in the sense of one that one can never have too much of.
Colorblindness sounds absolute; the better the blinder? Anti-discrimination as an ideal, at least is honest or forthright about its nature enough to allow us to reason upon its implications.
One can infer the effects of more and wider anti-discrimination; won't it forbid us to discriminate in times of dire need, such as war?
With colorblindness, one has to offer the possibility of 'color war' and 'color attacks' and 'color enemies', in order to refute it as an absolute.
Translating it to anti-discrimination allows more analysis. It is after all just an analogy, not a principle in itself; it still needs to be transalted into an actual principle, to have moral meaning.